Chopper Video System Helping Tulsa Police

Tuesday, December 23rd 2008, 5:46 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Police Department is catching more bad guys than ever, thanks to its new chopper video system.

The infrared portion now has better resolution and an improved 18 times zoom, plus they now have a color video camera that helps them see detail like never before.

The system was critical in catching a wanted felon recently, after a high speed chase.

The chase started on Interstate 244, went to Highway 75, then the Creek Turnpike.

Tulsa asked the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to help, they threw out some stop sticks, which blew two of the suspect's tires, but he kept going.

The infrared camera shows heat, as white hot and you could see the sparks flying as he drives on his rims. Then, a trooper does a tactical vehicle intervention move that ends the car chase, but the suspect wasn't done running.

The chase ended off Highway 117, an area that's pitch black area with tough terrain, so without the chopper and its FLIR, catching the guy would've been nearly impossible.

"That was very thick brush. You could see the officers had trouble getting through; the suspect was on his hands and knees. Once we lock on something like that, not going to get away," said TPD Sgt. Ron Moulton.

The suspect and dog kept fighting for quite a while as the chopper directed the officers to the scene, which took a while because of the conditions. In fact, it was so dark and disorienting, they first walked past him.

"Officer safety is one of our primary concerns, making sure they don't walk up on an armed suspect," said Sgt. Moulton.

Once he was in custody, the chopper used its light and switch to its color video camera, which makes things safer for everyone.

The chopper is also able to light up a road for the other officers, so they can get to the scene, without going through the thick brush.

Officers learned the suspect had felony warrants in Creek County.

Tulsa started its chopper unit in 1981 and got its first infrared system in 1993, which is when they realized just how many folks they'd been missing.